It Ain’t Bragging if It’s True

Most people are uncomfortable talking about themselves, especially their strengths, skills, and abilities. We tend to be modest about these things having been raised to not “toot our own horn” because bragging is unseemly. Yet that is precisely what you need to do on a job interview. If the interviewer cannot determine what value you would bring to her organization you won’t be asked to join them. So brag about yourself as it relates to the position you are interviewing for.

It is vital that you utilize a strengths-based approach to your job search and interviewing tactics. Let’s face it, the entire candidate selection process is highly subjective. Your objective should be to clearly and concisely communicate what you do well; it is then up to the interviewer to determine if you have the skills and behavioral attributes they feel they need and if you are a good fit for their organization.

During the interview your focus should be on assisting the employer in making an informed decision about your suitability for that particular position. This is accomplished by providing as much relevant information as possible in the time allotted. Sound too much like “selling”? Well, that’s because it is selling. As I have previously written, you are the product, is there one you know more about? Of course not.

Take a strengths inventory. Don’t be bashful. Identify your top strengths and as is done when marketing a product, be sure to state the value-add each provides. In other words, there is a feature and a corresponding benefit for each strength. For example, if you are a good listener try this: “I am a good listener who can ask frustrated end users the right questions to quickly diagnose the problem they are experiencing and provide a solution. This has helped me a lot in my current role. Is this something you look for at Jones Company?”

Make it relevant. You will be most convincing when you can point to actual workplace experiences. Using the example above you might say “My ability to listen helped me solve a problem with our largest client last week. Their IT manager wasn’t able to trace the bug in a program we wrote for them. By asking a series of questions I narrowed the problem down in 15 minutes and we are able to solve it without sending a tech to their facility.”

Core Strengths. Your core abilities are probably embedded in the assignments your boss delegates to you. If asked, what would he say are your three greatest strengths? How do they show up in which tasks that you do? Planning could be one: “I mentioned that planning is one of my core strengths and a good example of this is a project my boss put me in charge of last month to coordinate a complex multi-facility hardware installation…”

Capitalize on your strengths. Any strength can be converted to a higher level, better paying job that better suits your career goals. Just keep in mind that people trying to fill a position are way too busy and often under-trained in the fine art of interviewing and asking the right questions to let you shine. It is therefore up to you ensure that they get that information. This is good for both parties.

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Frank Manfre

Business consultant & coach w/ 35 years experience in leadership roles in for profit and nonprofit organizations focused on developing leaders & org health